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Shawn L. Ward, Ph.D. Social Sciences Seminar

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The last Social Sciences Seminar of the Fall 2018 semester Tuesday November 6 hosted Dr. Shawn L. Ward, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Psychology department. In his seminar, entitled “Career and/or Family: One of Life’s Difficult Choices,” Dr. Ward discussed the results of his most recent study, which looked to examine the relationship between sex and gender roles with career and family values. The study was started over 20 years ago at Lafayette College, while his most recent study involved 192 participants between the ages of 18 and 23 at Le Moyne College. Of this sample, 134 were female and 58 were male.

After giving the audience background, Dr. Ward explained his research in detail. He utilized several methods to determine whether gender roles can predict career and family values. These included inventories, such as the Bem Sex Role Inventory, which identifies individuals as masculine, feminine, androgynous, or undifferentiated based on their answers to a variety of questions. This inventory determined that, compared to the initial study 20 years ago, more males were identified as masculine and more females were identified as feminine. The ratio of androgynous and undifferentiated individuals remained about the same.

He also used the Role Values Inventory which examines whether participants value career or family more than the other. Participants were also asked to rate opinion statements based on whether they agreed with the statement and were asked demographic questions for more data.

Participants were then given three scenarios in which fictional individuals had to choose between a relationship or their career. One such scenario dealt with “Sandra,” who had to decide whether to limit her job search after graduation to the location where her boyfriend “Ted” lived or look for jobs elsewhere and risk losing the relationship. Half of the sample was given this scenario, while the other half had the names swapped to determine if the sex of the individual made a difference in the decision the participant made.

In this scenario, whether an individual should focus more on their relationship or career appeared to depend on the sex of both the individual and the participant. Participating males who were given the Sandra scenario said Sandra should move to Ted, while males who were given the Ted scenario said Ted should not move. Females said the opposite, suggesting a difference between gender role and family and career values. The other scenarios did not have as drastic a difference between males and females.

At the end of the seminar, Dr. Ward noted that as to next steps in his research, he would like to take life balance considerations into account, explore maternity and paternity policies and whether men take advantage of paternity leave, and explore the effects of career education. He answered several questions during and after the seminar, one of which asked what Dr. Ward would change about his research methods. He explained that in the future, he would like an evener balance of male and female participants, to explore a variety of majors, and perhaps limit the sample to older students who are typically more focused on their career.

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Shawn L. Ward, Ph.D. Social Sciences Seminar